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Too good to pass up? Blame ‘The Purdy Effect’ for increase in drafted QBs

Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett celebrates after the Bulldogs' win over Texas Christian.
Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett celebrates after the Bulldogs’ win over Texas Christian in the College Football National Championship Game in January at SoFi Stadium. The Rams drafted Bennett on Saturday.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
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NFL teams selected quarterbacks at a record pace during the three-day draft, and can you blame them?

After all, the San Francisco 49ers advanced to the NFC championship game last season behind the play of rookie sensation Brock Purdy, who earned “Mr. Irrelevant” honors as the last player selected in the 2022 draft.

The Purdy Effect, the moniker making the rounds Saturday, underscored the notion that teams can find hidden gems anywhere, in any round.

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So it isn’t surprising that 11 quarterbacks were selected among the first 150 picks, which according to ESPN was a record for the common draft era.

Here’s a rundown of all 14 players the Los Angeles Rams selected in the 2023 NFL draft, including a list of the Rams’ undrafted free-agent signings.

May 1, 2023

Three quarterbacks were chosen in the first four picks, and after two were taken Friday, nine more were selected Saturday — including Georgia’s Stetson Bennett to the Rams and Texas Christian’s Max Duggan to the Chargers, the two quarterbacks who squared off in the national championship game at SoFi Stadium.

Roughly 40 of the top quarterbacks in college football gather in Thibodaux, La., every summer to work as counselors at the Manning Passing Academy, tutoring 1,400 youth quarterbacks and receivers from around the country.

Each of the eight starting quarterbacks in the divisional round of last season’s NFL playoffs worked as a counselor at the camp: Dak Prescott, Trevor Lawrence, Jalen Hurts, Brock Purdy, Daniel Jones, Joe Burrow, Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen.

Not surprisingly, several of the quarterbacks drafted this year were also MPA counselors, among them Bryce Young, Anthony Richardson, Will Levis, Hendon Hooker, Aidan O’Connell and Bennett.

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Archie Manning, who started the camp with sons Cooper, Peyton and Eli, praised all of those quarterbacks, but said he’s particularly interested to see what Georgia’s Bennett — a fourth-round pick of the Rams — does with his opportunity.

Breaking down the Chargers’ 2023 NFL draft picks and how they might contribute on offense, defense and special teams next season.

April 29, 2023

“There will never be anyone that will have the career of Stetson Bennett again,” Manning said. “A walk-on quarterback who leads his team to two national championships, and he played in six games in his career where they give an MVP. He went six for six and won that award every time.”

Bennett will be learning behind Matthew Stafford, another MPA alumnus.

“Stetson’s been underestimated for years and years,” Manning said. “I’m not going to be one that underestimates him. I’m not going to say he’s going to go play. But he’ll at least be their third guy next year and he’s only going to get better.”

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You look familiar

Houston quarterback Clayton Tune runs with the ball during a game against South Florida in October.
(Michael Wyke / Associated Press)

Houston quarterback Clayton Tune, another former Manning camp counselor, was selected by the Arizona Cardinals in the fifth round. It took quite a while, but that brings his family’s story full circle.

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Tune’s great-great uncle was Texas Christian back Jim Lawrence, who was the first draft pick of the Cardinals organization. He was the fifth overall pick in the NFL’s inaugural draft of 1936. He died in 1990 at 77.

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A price to pay for Aaron Rodgers

Iowa State defensive lineman Will McDonald IV takes part in drills at the NFL Scouting Combine in March.
(Michael Conroy / Associated Press)

The New York Jets used the 15th pick on Iowa State edge rusher Will McDonald IV, which is fine and they said he was their best player on the board at the time. But pass rush wasn’t a pressing need, and the Jets really could have used one of the top offensive tackles.

The last of the top tier of tackles, Georgia’s Broderick Jones, however, went one pick earlier to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Jets originally had the 13th pick so they would have been in position to draft Jones, but as part of the trade for quarterback Aaron Rodgers, they switched positions with Green Bay. The Patriots, meanwhile, traded the 14th pick to the Steelers.

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Personnel is personal

Kansas State running back Deuce Vaughn carries the ball against Kansas in November.
(Colin E Braley / Associated Press)

It was a touching scene Saturday when the Dallas Cowboys selected Kansas State running back Deuce Vaughn in the sixth round. That’s because Vaughn is the son of Cowboys scout Chris Vaughn, who got to make the news-breaking phone call to his son.

The Dallas draft room gave the pick a standing ovation, and an emotional Chris Vaughn covered his face and wiped away tears.

Deuce Vaughn earned All-American honors all three seasons at Kansas State. He led the nation in all-purpose yards last season with 1,936.

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Both feet

Maryland's Chad Ryland kicks a field goal against North Carolina State in December.
(Nell Redmond / Associated Press)

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The New England Patriots put the “foot” in football in this draft, selecting both a kicker and a punter. According to ESPN Stats & Info, it marked the first time a club selected both positions in the same draft since 2000, when the Oakland Raiders took kicker Sebastian Janikowski and punter Shane Lechler.

The Patriots didn’t wait for Maryland kicker Chad Ryland to fall to them, they aggressively pursued him, striking a deal with the New York Jets to trade up eight spots in the fourth round to take him 112th overall. Two rounds later, the Patriots selected Michigan State punter Bryce Baringer.

Ryland began his college career at Eastern Michigan before transferring to Maryland for his final season. It looks as if he will compete for the Patriots job with Nick Folk, and the rookie is not worried about potential harsh weather conditions.

“I’m a cold-weather guy,” Ryland told reporters. “I like the cold. I like the wind. For me, it’s that challenge of ‘bring it on.’ Obviously there’s a lot that goes into kicking in those conditions. ... I love it. I don’t shy away from it. It certainly has helped me to develop into the kicker I am today.”

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Georgia on their minds

Georgia cornerback Kelee Ringo.
Georgia cornerback Kelee Ringo pursues the ball.
(Colin E Braley / Associated Press)

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Bit by bit, the Philadelphia Eagles are piecing the Georgia defense back together. After selecting defensive linemen Jalen Carter and Nolan Smith in the opening round, the Eagles drafted a third Bulldogs defender Saturday in cornerback Kelee Ringo.

Coupled with last year’s picks of Jordan Davis and Nakobe Dean, that’s five defenders from the same school in the last two years. That’s a record.

Joked Eagles general manager Howie Roseman: “I was worried they were going to relegate us to the SEC if we took more Georgia guys.”

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